CORNWALLPolperroounty in Southwest England including the Isles of Scilly (Scillies). First recorded in 891 as Cornwalam. The Welsh in Cornavia. From the Latin Cornu meaning horn. West of the Dunnoii (Devon) was the Corneu to the Britons - the land of horn. The second syllable comes from the Old English ‘wahl meaning foreign, as that was how the English called the Britons or the Welsh.

Local Links Cornwall County Council

owns and cities

A - Z of Towns

Truro (administrative headquarters), Camborne, Launceston; Bude, Falmouth, Newquay, Penzance, St Ives
rea 3,550 sq. km / 1,370 sq. miles (excluding Scillies)
opulation 479,600 (1994)

Longships Lighthouse, Land's End

Trevose Head Lighthouse


CoverackCornwall is bounded on the north and Northwest by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by Devonshire, and to the south and Southwest by the English Channel. The Scilly Isles are 38 km / 24 miles west of Land's End.
The northern coastline is formed of rugged cliffs, and is famous for its wild scenery. Although it has only two harbours of any importance commercially - one formed by the estuary of the River Camel (where Padstow is situated), the other at St Ives bay - there are numerous small creeks, formerly used by smugglers. Cornwall is however, filled with numerous smaller and usually very picturesque harbours.
The southern coast is also rocky, but to a lesser degree, and has headlands covered with luxuriant vegetation; the most important harbour is at Falmouth.
Rivers include the Tamar (forming the border with Devon), Camel, Fal, Fowey, Truro, Kenwyn, Allen.
Back to top The surface of Cornwall is extremely irregular; from the River Tamar (on the eastern border) to Land's End. It is a series of rugged hills, alternating with wide stretches of moorland. The Tamar is the county's chief river; it is tidal, and navigable for 30 km / 19 miles. The climate is mild, particularly in the south, and vegetation there grows prolifically. Exotic plants that would normally have to be grown under glass in Britain grow in the open in the Scilly Isles.
Cornwall's mines were formerly a great source of wealth, yielding the elements arsenic, bismuth, copper, iron, lead, tin, and zinc. At one time Cornwall supplied half of the world's copper, and all of Britain's tin. The tin industry declined in the first half of the 20th century. Cornish mines supplied Britain with nearly a quarter of its tin ore requirement in 1974, but the collapse in world tin prices in the 1980s led to rapid decline, and the last mine closed in 1998. Serpentine rock is also quarried, mainly in the Lizard district; ornaments are produced from it.

Pendennis CastleThere are several types of prehistoric remains in Cornwall:  cromlechs, such as Lanyon, Mulfra, and Zennor, rough monoliths, found in all parts of Cornwall; stone circles, of which the principal one is the Hurlers, near Liskeard; stone avenues, an example being the Nine Maidens near St Colomb Major; and the remains of hut dwellings. Cornwall's historic remains include many ruined cliff-top and hill-top castles; famous examples are the castles at Tintagel and Launceston, parts of which date from Norman times.
ommerce Back to top Agriculture: crops are early in some places: fruit, oats, and vegetables, including swedes, turnips, and mangolds (a root vegetable used as cattle fodder); spring flowers; cattle and sheep rearing; dairy farming.
Industries: fishing (Mevagissey, Newlyn, and St Ives are the principal fishing ports)tourism; electronics; kaolin (a white clay used in the manufacture of porcelain; St Austell is the main centre for production)
amous people John Betjeman, Humphry Davy, Daphne Du Maurier, William Golding, author of 'Lord of the Flies' and Nobel Prize winner, was born near Newquay. John Couch Adams, discoverer of the planet Neptune, went to school in Saltash.

goonhill.jpg (3559 bytes)

Goonhilly Downs, located on the Lizard Peninsula is the largest satellite station on earth.


Cornwall is the only county in Britain with only one boundary to another county, due to the fact that it is surrounded by the sea on the North, West and South. It is a popular destination for holiday makers and also attracts surfers to the many coves which see waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. There are miles of magnificently varied coastline which vary from seaside resorts and secluded coves to unspoiled fishing villages. A visit to see the delights of Cornwall is a must.

St. Michael's MountSt. Michael's Mount - part of the lost Kingdom of Lyonesse where King Arthur's Knights once rode. Home of the St. Aubyn family, St. Michael's Mount is a magical island of granite which rises sharply out of the sea in Mount's Bay opposite the village of Marazion, near to Penzance. The Island was given to the National Trust in 1954 by Lord St. Levan and is accessed at high tide by small ferry boats from Marazion at a nominal charge. At low tide, a stone causeway links the island to the mainland. The 12th century Benedictine Priory perched on the summit is open to the public and is well worth a visit, not only for the delightful Chevy Chase room and Priory Church but also for the spectacular views of Mount's Bay.

CadgwithThe superb fishing villages of St. Ives, Cadgwith, Mevagissey, Polperro and Fowey. Newlyn which blends into Penzance, is now Cornwall's largest fishing port and consequently many of the inns and restaurants in the area serve superb seafood. There is a well known art gallery located close to the harbour and the coastal road continues round to Mousehole, passing Penlee lifeboat station where in December 1981, the whole RNLI crew of the 'Solomon Browne' lifeboat were lost during a ferocious storm.

Tintagel HeadTintagel - Village resort on the north coast. There are castle ruins and legend has it that King Arthur was born and held court here. Formerly known as Trevena, Tintagel was associated with King Arthur since medieval times. The castle ruins stand on Tintagel Head, a promontory 91 m / 299 ft high on the Atlantic coast. It was a Norman stronghold from the mid -12th century, and the keep dates from the 13th century. Excavations have revealed evidence of a Celtic monastery on the site. It is thought that this may have existed from AD 350 to 850. The Old Post Office building dates from the 14th century.

Boscastle Harbour (Youth Hostel)Boscastle - Village on the northern coast preserved by the National Trust in an area of outstanding natural beauty. 10 km / 6 miles north of Camelford. It has a sheltered harbour. The surrounding scenery of woods, rivers, and moorland makes it a popular holiday resort. The name Boscastle is derived from the now vanished Bottreaux Castle. The last building in the village at the top of the slipway is a Youth Hostel where cheap accommodation can be found.

Falmouth - Port and resort on the south coast, on the estuary of the River Fal, 11 km / 7 miles Southwest of Truro. It is a major yachting centre and the marine rescue and coastguard centre for the Southwest region. Principal industries include tourism, ship-repair at Pendennis shipyard, and the construction of aluminium buildings and naval architecture. Aluminium fabrications constructed there include the NatWest Media Centre at Lord's cricket ground, London.
Pendennis CastleThe castles of Pendennis and St MawesSt Mawes, on opposite sides of the estuary, were built in 1543 to guard the entrance to the natural, deepwater harbour. The town contains the headquarters of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club and hosts a number of local regattas. Cultural facilities include the Cornwall Maritime Museum and an art gallery. Pendennis Castle was captured during the Civil War by the Parliamentarians after a five-month siege. In 1688 Falmouth became a Mail Packet Station, handling mail destined for North America and the West Indies, and it was an important trading port in the 18th century. The Riot Act (1714) was read for the last time to mutinous crews of packet ships docked at Falmouth. The town developed as a resort after the railway opened in 1863.
Until 1938 Falmouth was the anchorage of the Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper, now preserved in dry dock at Greenwich, London.

Land's EndBack to top The Southwest tip of Britain is known as Land's End, a group of dangerous rocks, the Longships, extend 1 mile out beyond Land's End and are marked by a lighthouse (1793). Land's End is a turf slope ending in a granite cliff about 18 m / 59 ft high. A natural tunnel pierces the headland, and there are caves which are accessible at low tide. Sennen CoveThe Longships include the Carn Bras, Meinek, Tal-y -maen, Kettle's Bottom, and Armed Knight rocks. Land's End is very popular as a tourist destination as England's most westerly point and as a starting / finishing point for travellers between Land's End and John 'O' Groats - the furthest mainland point of Britain in the North East of Scotland. The route is often walked or cycled for charity, which has turned both into commercialised areas. Just a couple of miles from Land's End is Sennen Cove, which has it's own spectacular coastline and small community and is well worth a visit. Above the harbour is the Round House which is now stocked with lots of artwork by Cornish artists. 

Bodmin Moor to the Northeast of Bodmin, is a granite upland culminating in Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall at 419 m / 1,375 ft. Bodmin became an important trading town in medieval times. It was the capital of Cornwall from 1835 until 1989 when it was replaced by Truro. St Petroc's Church in Bodmin is the largest medieval church in Cornwall. Dating mostly from the late 15th century, it contains a 12th-century font. There is a 44 m / 144 ft obelisk on the hill to the Southwest of the town, erected in 1856 in memory of Walter Raleigh Gilbert (1785-1853), a descendent of the adventurer Walter Raleigh. Lanhydrock House, 2.5 miles Southeast of Bodmin, is a 17th-century house now owned by the National Trust, which was largely rebuilt after a fire in 1881.

Back to top Minack TheatreThe rivers Camel, Fal, Fowey and Tamar flow through the county. Poldhu, site of first transatlantic radio signal 1901; the Stannary or Tinners' Parliament; Tate Gallery, St Ives; the Mineral Tramways Project, which aims to preserve the mining landscape, once the centre of the world's hard-rock mining industry; Eden Project, two `biomes� (tropical rainforest and Mediterranean) being built in disused china-clay pit near St Austell, scheduled to open in 2001

The World famous Minack Theatre, perched on the cliffs at Porthcurno provides a classic Greek style theatre setting with spectacular views overlooking the bay.